I have been waiting for the cover for my new book to arrive. This is it. The folks at Imzadi Publishing are so wonderful to work with. The editor catches every little goof I make and the graphic designer is fantastic, as you can see from the cover she designed. Well, the photo is one I took during my tour there, but putting it all together takes a bit of finesse.
As you will find, if you read the book, I’d had no intentions of returning to Vietnam. I was only too glad to get the hell out of that country after spending nearly a year flying helicopters in the treacherous and cheerless skies above it. I’d had nothing but contempt for the people, contempt for the country, and was thrilled to death to exit the US Army after my four long years of obligatory service were up. I’d never thought of returning to Vietnam.
Not until I received a phone call from a friend I exchanged posts with on Facebook, Thomas Baca. After some heavy encouragement from my wife and daughter, I relented and agreed to go. That was one of the best decisions of my life.
I was forced to re-evaluate everything I felt about Vietnam. I found that all of those ghosts, the angry memories, the indignation that I had endured, and the doubts I had harbored for forty-some years, all of the detritus that had filled my mind with contempt for the Vietnamese people were only my imagination. They weren’t real, but just my perceptions of things I didn’t understand.
I went on this tour with the intention of writing about it. I wanted to record my feelings, my thoughts, and any revelations I might experience. I also wanted to document the trip, including the country, the people, and some of Vietnam’s history, especially the Vietnam War, or the American War as the Vietnamese call it. I spent much of my time with my nose buried in my notebook or camera recording the sights and experiences. I had more than enough material for a book by the time I returned home.
I have to say that the revelations I experienced changed the way I look at a lot of things. Maybe that was the final moment of growing up. I know a lot of Vietnam veterans, like me, have had no desire to return to Vietnam. They harbor harsh memories so deeply engrained in their minds that they cannot see past the hatred. If they could only turn loose of it for just a moment and consider what has happened for others that did elect to go back, they could rid theirselves of so much stress and complication.
Even if you’re not a veteran, there is a message in the book. Maybe several. I encourage you to read it. You might be surprised.
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